Alternatives for the elimination of the use of mercury

Date: 2017-2018 (Six months)

Country: Burkina Faso

Donor: CIEDEL – Centre International d’Etudes pour le Developpement Local


This was a pilot experience to investigate and take action on the identification and testing of alternative solutions to the use of mercury for mineral processing in the department of Zorgho, Burkina Faso. After an initial stage of legal, contextual and mineralogical analysis, local miners were introduced to a centrifuge-type gravimetric processing technology.

Implementing this kind of testing required the miners to organize in groups, to participate in the development of logistics (for example, the building of water recovery pools) and to be willing to pay the costs generated by the tests (fuel, electricity). Local municipalities were involved from the beginning, and it was decided that the centrifuge concentrators were to be delivered to them. While it was planned, at first, to be working only with one group, three more groups later showed interest and joined the project.

Results achieved:

After six month of testing, the results were relatively positive and promising for the future. In fact, the miners admitted that this type of machinery allowed them to obtain concentrates that contained twice the amount of gold in one tenth of the time, compared with the manual guttering system they traditionally use. Moreover, they found this technology simple and relatively easy to use. Another positive factor was the involvement of local authorities and the continuous dialogue we were able to establish between the municipalities, the artisanal miners and the owners, in a context that had initially been unfavorable and characterized by tensions between these actors.

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